The last MSPT Season 8 stop at Meskwaki Casino in Tama, Iowa drew 424 entries (203 on Day 1A, 221 on 1B), and after an action-packed weekend, 30-year-old Max Havlish had his breakthrough win to walk away with a $90,152 top prize.
“I feel great,” Havlish said after the win. “It’s about time. I’ve been working hard at it for a long time, so it’s nice to finally take one down.”
Prior to the win, Havlish had just one MSPT cash when he finished ninth out of 3,273 entries in the MSPT Venetian for $41,698.
“I was happy to get ninth in Vegas, I was happy how I played, but it was nice to redeem myself,” admitted Havlish, who works but plays poker on the side. As for the prize money, he revealed that he and his girlfriend will be taking a vacation.
“She’ll be the decider as to where we go,” he said when asked where they’ll go.
Day 2 saw 83 players return to action, but with only 45 of them slated to get paid, nearly half the field would leave empty handed. Among them were former champs Keith Heine, Ahmad Taleb, and Kou Vang; and well as World Series of Poker bracelet winner John Reading and bubble boy Chris Durant.
Among those to earn a payday but fall short of the final table were Nik Stone (43rd - $2,254), MSPT Season 7 Player of the Year Rich Alsup (33rd - $2,459), World Poker Tour champ Kevin “BeL0WaB0Ve” Saul (30th - $2,459), Day 1B chip leader Dale Berger (18th - $4,508), Brian Reinert (14th - $5,327), Day 1A chip leader Lee Douglas (12th - $6,555), and final table bubble boy Tom Hammers (11th - $6,555).
At the final table, MSPT Season 5 Ho-Chunk champ Jason Sell was the first to go after shoving with king-queen and running into the ace-queen of fellow MSPT champ Dan “DQ” Hendrickson, who won the MSPT Season 6 Canterbury Park finale.
After a short-stacked Roger Bennett bowed out in ninth place, another former MSPT champ hit the rail. MSPT Season 5 Running Aces winner Ken Pates moved all in for less than ten bigs with pocket threes and Victor Hoffman decided to race holding king-queen in the big blind. A lady on the flop was a fat one, and she sang to put an end to Pates’ run in eighth place.
A short time later, Havlish doubled with pocket jacks through Al Carpenter, who held eights. Carpenter was left short and then shoved with king-seven suited only to run into jacks again, this time those of John “Farmboy” Kurfman. Carpenter wound up missing a flush draw and hit the rail in seventh place.
Hendrickson, the last MSPT champ left in the field, was then the victim of a cooler when he picked up kings only to run them smack dab into the aces of Hanner. The chips went in preflop, both players flopped sets, and Hendrickson, nicknamed “DQ” for his Dairy Queens franchises, had to settle for sixth place.
The final five battled for quite some time, and Hoffman seemed to get the better of Kurfman time and again. Eventually the man known as “Farmboy” shoved with king-nine only to get called by Havlish, who held Big Slick. The board ran out clean and Kurfman was sent out the door in fifth place.
The next three eliminations came pretty quickly. First to go was John Rausch, who tried to bluff the river against Havlish, who held two pair. Jon Hanner then fell when he got it in preflop with ace-jack against Havlish’s pocket sixes. Hanner paired his jack on the three-spade flop, but Havlish, who had the only spade, made a flush on the turn.
That allowed Havlish, who fired two bullets into the tournament, to take a nearly 8-1 chip lead into heads-up play against Hoffman. After a few hands, Havlish shoved the button with pocket sixes and Hoffman called off with threes. No trey appeared and Hoffman had to settle for second place and a $55,730 consolation prize.
For the win, Havlish earned 1,500 points on the Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year leaderboard. Along with the 1,100 he earned in Vegas, that gave him 2,600 points and put him in fourth place with only three stops left in the year.
“I’ll see you at Milwaukee and Canterbury,” he said. “I might have to fight for POY.”
Congratulations to Max Havlish, winner of the MSPT Meskwaki!